|After losing NFL coaching debut, Whisenhunt looks for the upside|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2007 13:17|
He woke up with a mix of good and bad feelings.
On the good side, the rebuilt offensive line performed well, and the defense held its own, at least until the 49ers' last-minute scoring drive.
On the bad side, the Cardinals committed the sort of mental blunders that have doomed them in the past. Matt Leinart threw two interceptions. And the Cardinals showed a frustrating inability to finish the game, which plagued them a year ago.
``Those are the things that we've got to learn from, and we've got to get better,'' Whisenhunt said on Tuesday morning. ``We had a chance to finish the game and win a game - a game that we didn't play our best offensively - and learn from it, and we didn't get it done.''
The players took Tuesday off, but Whisenhunt and his staff reported to the Cardinals' headquarters to go over Monday night's film and begin planning for Sunday's home opener against defending NFC West champion Seattle. The Seahawks opened with a 20-6 victory over Tampa Bay.
``We've got to move on,'' Whisenhunt said. ``It's one game. There are 15 other teams that are in the same situation as us.''
One costly mental mistake came in the final minute, when Arizona cornerback Eric Green misplayed a San Francisco fumble in his end zone. Instead of batting the ball out of bounds for a touchback, Green tried to recover it. San Francisco's Darrell Jackson recovered, and the ball was placed at Arizona's 1-yard line. The 49ers scored the winning touchdown on the next play.
``When you talk about being a smart team, recognizing that situation sometimes, that's one of those things where if you bat it out of the end zone, we win the football game,'' Whisenhunt said.
Mental mistakes also cost the Cardinals on their opening drive of the second half, when they were penalized four times in four snaps. The penalties gave the 49ers prime field position that they turned into a field goal.
``I'm upset about that,'' Whisenhunt said. ``We said we're going to be a disciplined, smart football team, and the start of the second half was not that. There's no real excuse for that.''
Leinart opened the season with an interception on his first pass and appeared out of sync much of the night. He finished 14-of-28 for 102 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two interceptions.
``I know that Matt feels like he didn't play very well, and he's a very accountable young player, which is something you like to see out of a quarterback,'' Whisenhunt said. ``But it wasn't just Matt.''
On the plus side, Whisenhunt was encouraged by the play of his defense, which limited the 49ers to 194 yards, although it couldn't hold off San Francisco during an 86-yard drive in the final minutes.
``I can't begin to give the defense enough credit for what they did that whole game,'' Whisenhunt said. ``They played a good game. They played good enough to win.''
Whisenhunt also praised the offensive line, which gave up one sack and opened some holes for running back Edgerrin James. He rushed 26 times for 92 yards and a touchdown.
The line may be without starting center Al Johnson, who hurt his knee. Whisenhunt said he would not have a report until Wednesday.
If Johnson can't play, he'd likely be replaced by Lyle Sendlein, who took over for him Monday night.